Dozens killed in unrelenting crime wave, few prosecutions
By Kim Lucas
October 10, 2002
Today, sections of the business community are continuing with a shutdown of the country in protest over the unrelenting spate of crime which has spawned fear in the country.
The "concerned citizens", as they have called themselves, have pointed out that more than three dozen people, including 10 policemen, have lost their lives violently over the last seven months.
There have also been numerous robberies of households and businesses on the East Coast of Demerara and the city since the February 23 jailbreak by five men. During these attacks citizens have been beaten, terrorised and threatened with death. To date, the Guyana Police Force has been unable to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. Few arrests have been made and fewer charges brought following the crimes. As the situation spiralled out of control, the army was brought on board to operate at Buxton and its environs following mounting evidence that the area has become a haven for many of the criminals.
To date, the Guyana Defence Force, in collaboration with the police, has launched several operations, including the ongoing 'Tourniquet' which was meant to restore confidence in the police.
But like other Caribbean territories, there has been an emergence of new trends in crime in Guyana in the last seven months, such as the deliberate targeting of policemen, increased carjackings, brazen drive-by shootings and gang-related activities, kidnappings and gun-snatching. The latter has seen several security guards being robbed, beaten, shot at and killed. Dozens of carjackings have occurred and the bandits have used these cars for the commission of their crimes. In many instances, bandits have used several cars in one operation in case one was disabled.
Another frightening feature of the crime spree is the array of high-calibre weapons at the disposal of the bandits including AK-47s. The bandits have also dressed like the police and have used bulletproof vests. In several of the encounters, the firepower of the bandits has been heavier than the police's.
In the face of it all, the police's inactivity has become more evident. Some sections of society feel that despite the odds facing the force, there is a need for a new type of thinking, planning and action in order to combat the crime spree.
"At first, nobody knew where they [the criminals] were...people were helping them and so they were always one step ahead of the police. But now everybody knows where they are and what are the police and army doing?" This was the general feeling as citizens watched the havoc being wrought in the country.
Prison Officer Troy Williams, 21, was the first to fall on the fatal Mash Day when the notorious five - Dale Moore, Troy Dick, Mark Fraser, Shawn Brown and the late Andrew Douglas - blasted their way out of the Camp Street penitentiary where they were being held in connection with a series of offences.
Ever since, there has been an unrelenting number of murders and robberies which, in most cases, were committed by large bands of men bearing sophisticated weaponry.
Stabroek News takes a look at some of the major crimes that were committed this year and the status of the police's investigations.
During this year, more policemen have lost their lives violently than the total number of law enforcers killed in the line of duty over the last two decades.
* Police Superintendent Leon Fraser. Shot to death on April 2 in a confrontation with a gang on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway. Shortly after his death, the authorities said Fraser was killed by a bullet from a car which was linked to the prison escapees.
However, two months later, the police said wanted man Compton Cambridge, who was killed in a house at Nabaclis, East Coast Demerara, was also wanted for Fraser's death. The five escapees were also wanted in connection with his death.
One of them, Andrew Douglas was found dead in a car earlier this year on the East Bank from gunshot wounds after a confrontation with members of the police force on Sheriff Street.
** Detective Harry Kooseram. Shot to death on April 15, while on his way to work at the Vigilance Police Station, East Coast Demerara. His assailant fired six bullets into his body. It was the same day Buxtonian Shaka Blair, who was shot dead in his house by the police on April 6, was being buried. Cambridge was also wanted in connection with his killing.
** On May 25, four policemen were shot in an ambush at the back of Coldingen on the East Coast Demerara. One of them, Sherwin Alleyne, later died. No one was charged.
** Five days later, on May 30, tragedy struck the police force again, as policeman Andy Atwell was gunned down in an attack on the Alberttown Station. No one was charged.
** On Father's Day, two weeks after Atwell was murdered, Rawle Thomas, a member of the Target Special Squad succumbed at the Public Hospital Georgetown Corporation to gunshot wounds he had received two days earlier in an attack at Linden. No one was charged.
** Less than a month later, on July 11, Detective Adrian London was shot dead, execution-style, on Joseph Pollydore Street, Lodge. No one was charged.
** Ten days later, on July 21, two other policemen - Outar Kissoon and Ramphal Pardat - were killed as a large band of men invaded the town of Rose Hall, Corentyne and wrought havoc. No one was charged.
** Then on the morning of August 24, Deputy Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, Vibert Inniss, was executed when he stopped in Buxton to purchase a newspaper. No one was charged.
** Four days later, on August 28, Constable Feroze Bashir was shot to death while visiting his girlfriend in an East Coast Demerara village. No one was charged.
** The latest member of the force to have lost his life was Police Inspector Leyland October, who was gunned down in front of a shop on September 6, after purchasing ice-cream for his granddaughter. Again, no one was charged.
The police have not yet solved these murders.
Added to the slaying of policemen, several security guards and civilians, too, were murdered when some of the robberies turned violent.
**These include Vigil security guard Chaitram Etwaru, who died on May 16, during a robbery attack on Jairam's General Store in Charlestown;
** Cashier Ramnauth Persaud, who was shot by bandits on June 1, during a blitz on Gobin's Cambio in Regent Street;
** Claudette Ng-See-Quan was murdered on June 13, when bandits invaded her Vergenoegen residence;
** On June 27, a former sugar worker, Mohamed Kayan Baksh, lost his life when five gunmen tried to break into his Meten-Meer-Zorg home on the West Coast Demerara;
** Bandits on July 9, opened fire on a delivery van belonging to Edward B. Beharry and company, killing security guard Carlyle Wickham at Cummings Lodge;
** PPP delegate Balram Kandhi was shot and killed during the storming of Rose Hall, Corentyne on July 21, a mere hour after the congress ended;
** On August 26, dentist Neville Fung-A-Fat was found dead in his New Amsterdam, Berbice office.
** September 1, Luxury Cabs driver Motilall Lall was hijacked. He was later found at Canal Polder on the West Bank Demerara chopped and shot to death. Four men have since been charged over his killing. Two weeks prior to Lall's death, a PGS guard was gunned down inside Bhagan's Drug Store on Camp Street and his weapon was snatched.
** September 10, two men - Emmanuel Wright and Junior Liverpool - were killed in a shootout with the police at Republic Park, East Bank Demerara. Reports said that the two men had earlier that night robbed a gas station in the city.
** September 10, a pregnant woman and her husband were shot and injured as bandits tried to invade their home; that same day, taxi driver Johniel Wilson was found dead at Ogle, East Coast Demerara;
** September 20, two men - Tony Evans and Michael Allen - were gunned down by unknown assailants in Albouystown;
** Then, in one night (September 26), five people were brutally killed in two separate incidents. First, a teenager, Delroy Gomes, was gunned down by two men who had called him out of his Campbellville home under the pretext of leaving a message for Gomes' father. Less than 10 minutes later, a lone gunman entered Natoo's Bar at Pike and Lamaha Streets, Kitty, and sprayed the place with bullets. In the end, four people died and several others, including the Director of Public Prosecutions Denis Hanomansingh, were injured. Among those who died were race car driver, Gavin Naraine and brother and sister, Lloyd Singh and Joy Arjune.
** Two nights later, two Berbicians Seeram Pomdass and Cecil Sahadeo were gunned down in a car as they drove through the troubled East Coast Demerara village of Buxton.
** Days ago, businessman Kamal Seebarran was kidnapped in broad daylight on Sheriff Street and held for one day before being released unharmed. It was reported that a large ransom was paid for his freedom. Four heavily armed men with bulletproof vests had carried out the abduction.
Only four people have so far been arrested and placed before the courts. They are Dan Ashraf, Rabindra Rooplall, Parsram Turbeni and Vijay Persaud. The quartet has been accused of the murders of taxi drivers Motilall Lall and Johniel Wilson.
The other robberies/murders remain unsolved and the killings continue.